Connect People • Strengthen Leaders • Embrace the Future

How Do I Build Trust and Engage Others?

What we are observing about Trust:

In our experience, in many organizations the overall level of trust among employees and between them and their leaders is very low.  When trust is low, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to engage, collaborate and work together effectively, which in turn erodes the long-term productivity and viability of the organization.

Contributing factors:

Leaders who want to build trust among their people can start by acknowledging several contributing factors:

  1. The gap in “truths.” Frequently, there is a gap between what leaders/organizations declare to be their policies and practices—“the official truth”—and what people actually experience at work—“the ground truth.” For example, in one organization, work-life balance is broadly promoted as a value of the company, but employees who seek flexible hours are told that their careers may suffer. In another organization leadership behavior is formally encouraged and developed programmatically, but peer leaders are evaluated and rewarded only for their technical performance versus leadership accomplishments. In short, when organizations do not honor what they claim to do for their employees, people notice and trust erodes.
  2. Bad actors. Public perception of leaders in all sectors is extremely poor due to the proliferation of high profile, executive-level scandals, scams, politial intrigue and corporate crime. Today’s leader inherits this perception, deserved or not, and must earn the trust of others to overcome it.
  3. No dedicated time. The high-tech, 24/7, competitive nature of the American workplace has created a culture in which there is little time, opportunity, or obvious incentive for people to build healthy interpersonal relationships. Such trust and engagement enhancing activities are often viewed by management as a waste of time because workers aren’t ’producing.’

What is needed:

Employee engagement is predicated on trust, and trust doesn’t just happen. It is built, earned, demonstrated and reciprocated. We see trust as comprised of three key elements, each of which can be applied at the interpersonal and organizational level:

  • Keeping Agreements/Accountability
  • Self-disclosure/Transparency
  • Common values/Mission

The greatest levels of trust are experienced where these three elements overlap.

When trust is high, people are more willing to work together to find solutions to commonly felt problems. They have greater capacity to weather and overcome the inevitable disagreements and obstacles they will face. They can build dynamic networks, amplify their influence, and collaborate across boundaries to address larger-scale issues. Effective collaboration generates better ideas and more inclusive and sustainable outcomes. And organizations that enjoy robust collaboration become more resilient, adaptive, and better poised to thrive in unpredictable times.

Examples of actions leaders and teams can take that build trust and engagement include:

  • Creating agreements that clarify roles, responsibilities and how people will hold each other accountable
  • Telling the truth and making it OK for others to do so
  • Intentionally seeking out ways to close the gap between the “official truth” and the “ground truth” within one’s organization
  • Making important information and decision-making processes transparent to all
  • Inviting participation and feedback from employees on key policy initiatives and decisions that will impact them
  • Exploring what values and goals are shared by people within the organization, and uniting around and planning for shared gain
  • Aligning organizational mission to reflect the shared values and goals of the people in the organization

What we offer:

GLI is adept at working with people—individuals, teams of any size, large organizations, and stakeholder groups. We know how to create replicable processes and programs that build relational capacity and are aligned with the objectives of our clients. 

The outcomes of our work include:

  • Clients experience working together in ways that elevate trust and interpersonal skills
  • They collectively understand and commit to the roles, responsibilities and processes that will help them grow capacity and produce high-quality work
  • Employee engagement increases as trust rises
  • Clients have clear, realistic actions they can employ right away to increase interpersonal skills and improve performance
  • The work culture starts to support the visions and goals of the organization when trust, engagement and inclusion become the bedrock for how action plans are developed and executed

Learn more about GLI service offerings.